RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina's budget is now the law.
Gov. Mike Easley signed into law Tuesday the $15.9 billion budget approved over the weekend by the General Assembly. He touts the plan as a disciplined spending bill that improves education and promotes job creation.
"This budget protects education. This is the fourth budget I've signed. This will be the fourth time that I've signed a budget that fully funds enrollment increases K-12," Easley said.
Easley said his staff is still reviewing several bills passed by the Legislature late in the session that concluded Sunday, but he says he wants the budget enacted as quickly as possible.
The spending plan allots $118 million to meet expected enrollment growth in public schools, UNC-system campuses and the community colleges. State employees got their first permanent raise since 2000, either 2.5 percent or $1,000, whichever is greater.
The budget also expands the state's Job Development Investment Grant program to $15 million per year, while extending it for a year and raising the maximum number of projects from 15 to 25.